Three Bean Orzo Spinach Salad


OMG, I had such a busy weekend. I am thrilled to say, I cooked up a complete storm in my kitchen and I can’t wait to show you the millions of things I made. Senor and I kicked off the weekend with a trip to the American Girl store at the Mall of America. It was awesome as I’m sure you can imagine.

We had dinner at the mall at the Cadillac Ranch and I regret to say, it was not worth the $44 tab. I had a Cajun shrimp salad that was Cajun in no way at all. It didn’t taste bad, but it was pretty boring and weirdly warm. Like the produce had all been sitting out and then they microwaved the shrimp on high. I was also irked by the size of it. For a place the sells a 24oz. Prime Rib for $25, you’d expect a $15 salad to be giant right? Not so much. Come on guys, those mixed greens come pretty cheap. Toss some more in! There were plenty of shrimp, but the veggie base was sparse. Anyway, it definitely wasn’t a picture-worthy dinner although Senor said his burger and fries were fairly tasty.

PS does a 24 oz. slab of meat enrage anyone else? I mean, do we really have to wonder why we’re such an unhealthy nation? We have mall steakhouses selling a slab of meat that should serve eight people (eight!!!!) and aiming it towards one person. And since it is most certainly grain-fed beef, the saturated fat content is likely to be a week’s worth if not more. Grass-fed beef loin (for example) has about 2.5 grams of total fat per 3 oz. serving while grain-fed beef loin has 8.5 grams of fat per 3 oz. serving. Total fat content and saturated fat content take a big hit in grass-fed beef. Check out the stats here.  Then, find a farmer near you who raises pastured cattle, chickens, hogs, etc. I could go on and on about what volumes it speaks that a restaurant that had ‘oversized’ everything from the menu to the booths to the meat would offer slabs of meat big enough for eight people as a serving for one but would skimp on the mixed greens in a salad. I’ll let it go by simply saying, I was grossed out.

The past two weekends we’ve had some pretty nice weather, although we’ve had some storms and rain as well. Last weekend it was so warm and I desperately wanted to grill. We had every intention on doing it too until daylight ran out on us. It didn’t help that Senor was working until five, we had to run to the store and the gym AND that we were missing both our chimney starter and any charcoal. So the outdoor grilling plan got postponed. I had a sirloin and some salmon filets marinating when I whipped up this yummy, warm side dish though. I figured we’d get everything ready, get our coals going and voila, dinner would be ready. Luckily I was able to use my grill pan so we still managed to grill the steak and salmon but we did miss the smoky, delicious charcoal action.

This salad is perfect for pairing with grilled meat or fish and I was so excited about it when I made it, that I simply had to incorporate it into my brunch that day. Wouldn’t you do this if you could?? 

And then, this?

I did. It was amazing. Then again, if you had such insanely perfect eggs from Blue Gentian Farm, you’d want to eat them on top of everything too. And take 10,000 pictures of them.

With black beans, navy beans, green lentils and whole wheat orzo this salad is fiberific and super, super filling. And it pretty much works with everything from fish to steak to eggs. Delicious. You can even feed it sans egg or meat to the strictest of your vegan friends for a filling, nutritious meal.

Although the salmon wasn’t grilled over charcoal, it still topped the salad pretty well. 

You can used canned beans for this salad, simply rinse them well. I used beans that I had bought dry but had soaked and cooked them previously. I like to keep cooked beans in my freezer for any time I need them. They are cheaper, have no sodium and there’s no fear of BPA leaching into my food via a can liner. If you do use canned beans, I recommend the Eden Organics brand. They are tasty and delicious and they use a BPA-free can lining. 🙂 The measurements below are for cooked beans, but dry lentils and dry pasta.

Three Bean Orzo Spinach Salad
Makes 4 servings

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 cup dry whole wheat orzo pasta

1/2 cup dry green lentils

1 cup cooked black beans

1 cup cooked navy (white) beans

1 bag baby spinach

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste.

Prepare your lentils and orzo separately in two pots of boiling water. Bring each to a boil and let cook until tender. Both will take approximately 20 minutes. Once tender, drain well.

While your lentils and pasta are boiling, prepare your beans and spinach. If using canned beans, open and rinse thoroughly. Let them drain well in a colander. If using frozen beans, soak them in water for ten minutes to thaw. Then let them drain. Make sure to given them a gentle toss in the colander before adding to the skillet to remove any excess water.

Once your beans, lentils and pasta are all ready to go and well-drained, start up your skillet. Add two tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet and heat on medium. Give the skillet a few turns to spread the oil. Once warm, add the full bag of baby spinach. 

Top with the orzo,

black and white beans,

and lentils.

Sprinkle a bit of Kosher salt and plenty of black pepper over the entire mixture.

Toss with a spatula or tongs. Make sure to scrape the bottom of the skillet so nothing sticks or gets over cooked. You want the salad to be warm, but not hot. 

Keep tossing the ingredients until they’re blended. Once warmed through, take a quick taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary and then serve up immediately. Top with eggs, salmon, steak, crusty bread, whatever you want. Or just eat it plain. It’s fairly delicious all on its own. 

Nutrition Info for 1 serving:
Total Calories: 413; Total Fat: 8.49g; Total Carbohydrate: 64.93g; Dietary Fiber: 21.81g; Sugars: 1.43g; Protein: 20.35g


One Comment on “Three Bean Orzo Spinach Salad”

  1. Kara says:

    >Thanks for the info on grass fed beef. I am always happy to see when people choose it over grain fed beef. We all need to be aware of the foods we eat and choose the healthier options. I order my grass fed beef from La Cense Beef. The beef comes to you directly from the ranch and it is 100% grass fed. I love to eat grass fed beef because it is higher in omega 3’s and lower in calories and fat.

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